Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays because it isn't about what you are going to buy and how many gifts you are going to get. It is simply about spending time with your family while eating a good meal.

I have mentioned before how large my family is, so to host the entire clan is quite an undertaking. Sometimes the count may even reach around 30, but on average about 20-25. This year was a little different because my Aunt Maureen, Uncle Alan and their 3 boys moved to Utah this summer. For the past several years Maureen has always hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Every year I went to Maureen's the day before to help her set the table. You wouldn't typically think that setting a table would take all afternoon, but when you are trying to fit 20 some people all around one table, it takes some time. Thanksgiving Eve was always a special time for me because it allowed me an opportunity to spend the afternoon with my Aunt Maureen who is also very much my friend. Maureen would be working in the kitchen putting together what she could a day ahead and I would be clipping flowers assembling the centerpiece while catching her up on whatever drama was currently going on in my life. An afternoon I will be missing terribly this year.

Thanksgiving was special at Maureen's for several reasons. She always made sure that we were able to fit everyone around the table. This usually meant putting together many different sized tables stretching out into the hallway, BUT we all sat together.

One of the many tips I have picked up from Maureen- Keep notes from year to year. Maureen had notes  scribbled next to her recipes about what worked and what didn't. She also drew little diagrams of the table configurations we came up with so that we could refer back to them in the years to come depending on the amount of people. Trust me, we came up with some creative table shapes.

Maureen's hosting skills have always impressed me. She never went too fancy or crazy with the food. For Thanksgiving I believe you should stick with the basics, but do them well. There is no need for fancy stuffing with crazy ingredients. Save that for a regular night when you are just having pork chops for dinner, Thanksgiving already has so much going on. Maureen also kept up with many small and perhaps unnoticed touches every year, like the pickle plate. We always had a pickle plate on the table. Things you may not notice year after year, but definitely do miss when they are gone.She always went above and beyond but somehow made it seem effortless. The reason is because she really does enjoy putting everything together, and you can tell by the way her food tastes and the atmosphere of the evening. The worst is when you go into someone's home and they are freaking out, running around, and look as if they might stab anyone who dares enter the kitchen. Don't offer to host if you are going to act like it is the biggest inconvenience, it makes everyone uncomfortable. If you do not have a choice...plan better, ask for help and keep reminding yourself that it DOES NOT have to be perfect. When all else fails grab yourself a glass of wine.

In Maureen's absence my Aunt Diane and Uncle Michael hosted this year. The dinner was delicous and the company was lovely, but it just wasn't the same and probably won't be for some time now. I might just have to go to Utah next year for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Experiment in Personalizing

Recently I began experimenting with personalized pendants using resin. I have played with resin before, but I was frustrated with the limited products available to me, and how long the process took. I am not very patient when I have an idea. If I envision a necklace I need to make it right then and there while the picture is still fresh in my head. By the time the resin was dry (a good 12 hours) I had already moved on to something else.

What's different this time? I found these brass bezel charms from Vintaj Natural Brass Co., they are right up my alley. I love them so much that I am confident the inspiration they stirred up will be around for a long time. They automatically triggered so many ideas in my head. I love the vintage look of anything brass. I don't want to just make a charm with a picture in it. I want to match the look of the jewelry I typically make and that is a semi vintage/rustic style. I also have plans to incorporate polymer clay, whether it be an initial, hand-sculpted flower or just accent beads. So I can work on the polymer clay accents while I am waiting for the resin to cure.

I experimented with 2 photographs. One of my very dear friend Lauren on her wedding day, and my beautiful and adorable baby niece. I figured if I was going to experiment with a new technique I should be able to share them as potential gifts...if they turned out. So far so good. 12 hours later the resin has cured, and is thankfully bubble free!

What's the plan?
Personalized jewelry incorporating pictures, names, charms, dates...
  • Wedding photographs accented with polymer clay flowers sculpted to match those you carried on  your wedding day.
  • Photographs of your children, adding more as your family grows. 
  • Treasured family photographs from many years...perfect with the vintage style.  
When you're creating something personal the possibilities are endless because every picture, theme, and story will be different. I am very excited to see what else I can make.
Stay tuned...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall Weddings

Now that the month of October is officially over, I can finally share with you the jewelry I made for two fall brides. I wanted to wait until after the weddings so I didn't spoil any of the surprise. Designing wedding jewelry has quickly become one of my favorite requests to work on. It is such an honor to be asked to create something for such a special day. Not to mention a little nerve-racking because it is such an important day. Both brides are dear friends of mine and working with them was an absolute pleasure. We spoke a little about what they wanted and the colors, but for the most part they left it all up to me. It felt great that they both trusted me so much.

October Bride #1 - Andrea
Andrea's wedding was a self-described earthy/natural wedding in a beautiful, historic farmhouse in Lancaster County. Her colors were simple black and white. Because her wedding was on the "rustic" side I was able to incorporate one of my favorite materials - polymer clay. We also discussed varying the styles so each girl would have a look that suited them best. I made 7 necklaces; one for the Mother of the bride and six for the bridal party. I decided to go with 3 different styles for the girls (2 necklaces of each ), Mom got her own altogether. When I delivered the necklaces to the bride she was visibly excited and pleased with what I came up with. She actually clapped and hopped a little - I have never seen her do this before so I was definitely ecstatic to see her genuine reaction. She even took time out of her actual wedding day to send a text letting me know how great the necklaces looked on each of the girls. I was so touched that she took the time to do this on such an overwhelming and busy day.

Congratulations, Andrea and Jesus! I know you will have a wonderful life together!

Happy Couple!
October Bride #2 - Danielle
I had the privilege of attending Danielle's wedding this past Saturday. The whole day was so beautiful. Weddings are always so much fun, but especially when you are celebrating a couple who are so obviously meant for each other like Danielle and Brian.  The spirit of the wedding and the mood of everyone attending, clearly solidified that we were all there to support and celebrate 2 people coming together for the right reasons. It was a perfect wedding, and I am still very sore from dancing all night.

Danielle was happy to hand over the reigns in deciding what the girls should wear. We decided to go with an earring and bracelet combo. All of the girls are in their early twenties so it was important to keep things classy, yet youthful and hopefully make them something they would want to wear again. This time the color was a bit trickier because it was a brownish/purple. At one point I called it smokey brown, but we settled on Mulberry. So the girls wore beautiful mulberry dresses and I was lucky enough to actually find beads that matched perfectly. I made 2 strand bracelets with just a bit of sparkle. I must say that I was very pleased with the final outcome. It was a style I have not done before, but one I will certainly be working with again.  It was especially gratifying to be able to attend this wedding and see the jewelry as it was intended.

Congratulations, Danielle and Brian! I am so happy for you both and love you very much!

I would like to again, thank both Andrea and Danielle for allowing me to design the jewelry for their weddings. You are both wonderful women and I was so honored that you asked me to contribute to your special day. Thank you.